Basing out of Alamogordo for your White Sands National Monument adventure?
Start your morning off with a cup of coffee at Mad Coffee or Plateau Espresso and pick up lunch to go at the Hi-D-Ho Drive-In, home of the locally famous Tiger Burger, before heading to White Sands National Monument. More than 275 square miles of glistening white dunes await you, so stop at the park visitor center for its interpretive exhibits before setting off on the scenic 16-mile round-trip Dunes Drive. Along the way, stop at a covered picnic area to eat your lunch.
Explore Vineyards and Pistachio Groves near Alamogordo
Then focus on earth, specifically the area’s propensity for growing pistachios and pecans. Heart of the Desert is the state’s first and largest producer of pistachios. Stop for a free guided walking tour and then sip wine on the Tuscan-inspired patio overlooking the pistachio groves.
At McGinn’s PistachioLand, take a motorized tour of its vineyards and pistachio orchards. There’s also a wine tasting room, pistachio bar and ice cream shop. It’s home to the world’s largest pistachio, a 30-foot nut made of cement. A tribute to Tom McGinn, founder of McGinn’s PistachioLand, it was the vision of Tom’s son, Tim McGinn.
Farther up the road, see Three Rivers Petroglyph Site where Jornada Mogollon people used stone tools to etch images in rock.
Trinity Site near Alamogordo
Depending on the time of year, you can also visit the infamous Trinity Site, a National Historic Landmark, where the first atomic bomb was tested on July 16, 1945. It’s only open to the public the first Saturday in April and in October. Learn more at alamogordonmtrue.com/trinity-site.
Or if your timing does not work out for the site, get a shot of yourself in front of the gorgeous Pueblo Revival building that houses the Tularosa Basin Museum of History. It features exhibits on the area from prehistoric to the Space Race.
Want to see the stars?
Spend the night, or at least part of it, at the Oliver Lee Memorial State Park where volunteers teach travelers about the stars, planets and moon beneath beautiful dark skies. Check the New Mexico State Parks website at www.emnrd.state.nm.us for scheduled events.
Back in town, head to the New Mexico Museum of Space History where you can see a mock-up of the International Space Station, learn about life in space and see a large format film in the planetarium, home to the world’s first Spitz Scidome 4k Laser full-dome planetarium projection system.
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